DEAN PATRICK BRIDGES
28 June 1948 – 12 May 1995
Dean was born in San Jose, California to Donald William Bridges 1919-1983 and Vivian Janice (Bontrager) Bridges 1924-1999 in Santa Clara, CA. on June 28th of 1948. He attended public schools and graduated from San Jose High School in 1965 with the call of duty summoning him from afar. The military, in his family, was a family business and a hard-earned legacy.
Dean volunteered for the Army on February 28, 1966. He received an honorable discharge on February 27, 1969. Dean learned the value of military service and duty from his father, quite likely. One has to suspect his tenacity as a LRP was partly due to a heartfelt obligation to the Ranger brotherhood on behalf of his family. His father Donald served as an Infantry Sgt in WWII in the Pacific. He was captured at the fall of Bataan and became a POW of the Japanese. Donald survived the infamous “Bataan Death March” and survived 33 months of starvation and mistreatment in the Cabanatuan prison camp. It was only because of the “Great Raid of Cabanatuan” at night by members of the 6th Ranger Battalion, in total 128 men, that his father was rescued on January 30, 1944. The epic mission was the most complex operation that Rangers conducted during World War II and one of the most successful. All but one of the 511 American and Allied POWs were rescued while an estimated 523 Japanese were killed or wounded. The cost was two Rangers killed, and seven injured.
The successful raid is recognized worldwide to this day, including a feature film “The Great Raid” made in 2004. General MacArthur, who said that the raid was “magnificent and reflected extraordinary credit to all concerned,” awarded the Distinguished Service Cross to the Ranger Commander Mucci, the Silver Star to all American officers, and the Bronze Star to all American enlisted men who participated in the operation.
Can it be any wonder that Dean volunteered to be a Ranger with the knowledge that he would never have had the chance to be born were it not for the members of the 6th Rangers. He surly felt an obligation to honor those Rangers as we now carry forward that obligation to honor Dean along with them.
His younger brother, Dennis Michael Bridges 1946-1984 died at the age of 38. It seems the candles burned brightly in his family, but only for a short time. We are glad he chose to serve with us. Dean died on May 12th, 1995 leaving only his mother who then died 4 years later. His remaining family are the Rangers most grateful we had the opportunity to serve with him. His service and memory burn bright in our hearts.
Rangers Lead The Way!